Caulfield’s Ciaron Maher is hoping his nicely-bred gelding Harvard will be given the chance to atone for an unplaced Brisbane run last time out by making it into Saturday’s Queensland Derby 2016 field.
Maher saddles-up the favourite Azkadellia in the weekend’s $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) and is hoping to be dually represented in elite level class at the final Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival meeting.
A son of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, Harvard sits well down the order of entry for this year’s $600,000 Group 1 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m).
He is 27th on the Queensland Derby ballot, but Maher remains hopeful the attrition rate for the capacity 18-starter field is high and Harvard makes the cut after a good work-out on Tuesday morning.
“He galloped well this morning and we’ll roll the dice into the Derby if he can make the final field tomorrow morning,” Maher told Racing Victoria.
“He’s a very big horse. He’s close to 17.3 hands and I think that (at) Doomben, he didn’t get around the corner and Mark (Zahra) ended up getting suspended on him because he was so green (in the Grand Prix Stakes).
“I think Eagle Farm will definitely suit him. It’s a nice big track and he can roll into it a bit easier but the penny still hasn’t quite dropped with him.”
Harvard’s sire Shocking was second to Court Ruler in the 2009 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm, Harvard a roughie’s hope of making the field and going one better with an upset win in the mile and a half classic.
After a win over 1900m on the Synthetic Geelong track on May 17, Harvard debuted in Brisbane on May 28 in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m).
He finished 10th to Mackintosh beaten just over five lengths and now sits as a $41 outsider in pre-field Queensland Derby betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Chris Waller-trained Grand Prix Stakes winner Mackintosh meanwhile has won his past three on the trot and leads the all-in Queensland Derby odds at $4.
The Pins gelding is out to complete the Brisbane 3YO Triple Crown with his Grand Prix triumph coming on the back of a Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) win in mid-May.
Waller shoots for a second Queensland Derby trophy having previously won with Hawkspur (2013), while Harvard’s trainer Maher is to saddle-up a starter in the race.
Hot on Mackintosh’s heels in the futures markets are Darren Weir’s SA Derby winner Howard Be Thy Name ($4.20) and the Bryan Guy-trained Gold Coast galloper Eagle Way ($5) who ran third and second respectively in the Grand Prix Stakes.
The Grand Prix Stakes has produced two of the past four Queensland Derby winners with Brambles (2012) and the aforementioned Hawkspur (2013) both completing the double Mackintosh is chasing this season.
The 2016 Queensland Derby final field and barriers are out on Wednesday making now the time to lock in your early selections at their generous prices through Ladbrokes.com.au – home of Odds Boost!